Thursday, April 30, 2009
Today is my birthday and I'm now at an age when reverting to adolescence seems increasingly attractive. And what better place to engage in something ridiculous and whimsical than the Te Paki sand dunes in the Far North. Located near Te Paki stream - which provides access from Cape Reinga to Ninety Mile Beach for the numerous tourist buses that frequent the area - the dunes have been pushed inland for around five kilometres and in places are over 100 metres high, making them perfect for a spot of sand-boarding. You can go it alone, or you can join the Dune Rider excursions, thereby side-stepping the whole issue of driving yourself north. And there's certainly something to be said for being driven about by someone else. www.explorenz.co.nz
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I love this work by New Zealand artist, Ronnie van Hout and the way it interacts with the architecture on the roof-top sculpture courtyard of the National Museum Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington. I photographed it when I was there last week (with permission). It's called "One Shed, Two Sheds" and was inspired by van Hout's memory of his father's locked and secret sheds. www.tepapa.govt.nz
Here I am – at the very tip of the North Island – getting a glimpse of the Cape Reinga Lighthouse. It was built in 1941 and became fully automated in 1987, ending the era of the lighthouse-keeper. According to Maori mythology, the spirits of the dead travel to Cape Reinga on their way to the after-life, so theoretically it should feel like a very spiritual place. Overflowing with tourists as it invariably is though, it’s a very special kind of hell - which is a very great pity for it’s the sort of spot I’d love to sit alone in.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
It was a grey day when I first wandered along the Wellington Waterfront a week or so ago, which seemed to suit the mood of this sculpture located outside Te Papa. I never did find out whose work it was. I did ask and all I discovered was that it (and others nearby) are not a Te Papa initiative. I liked the way this particular work interacts with the surrounding architecture - a lovely combination and contrast of forms.
Who could blame our overseas friends for falling in love with New Zealand when this is what they have to endure? The Bay of Islands may seem 'touristy' to some, but get away from the towns and out on to the water and you discover the real beauty that makes this place so enduringly popular. It may be mid-winter - and okay, the sun may not be shining QUITE this brightly today - but there's a lot to be said for Northern warmth - and On the Edge makes it all so easy! www.explorenz.co.nz
Monday, April 27, 2009
I find something unexpectedly fascinating - poetic almost - about the juxtaposition of all these lovely 'soft' words with the brutality of a construction site at Auckland's Britomart development. Love it love it love it and took Waaaay mote photographs than I should probably confess to. There's a few I featured a few days ago below...if you scroll down a wee way. Clever graphics.
There's plenty happening at the Auckland Art Gallery but whether or not you call it art is another matter. The original gallery building is getting a huge makeover - it's currently wrapped in orange like a giant surprise package - and a new extension is being built. I loved the way the hoarding sign, the image of the finished gallery and the shapely tree all came together to make an interesting visual image. I also love gallery signs fullstop - hence the top photograph. I often photograph gallery signs. To me, they can be works of art in their own right.Sometimes it's about colour and shape; other times it's about the signs in situ - how they are juxtaposed with architecture and their surroundings. www. aucklandartgallery.govt.nz
Collectible Crown Lynn gathered across a piano top in Auckland. One collector's passion for early New Zealand ceramics is spreading throughout the house. Swans have alighted upon every surface and handpotted vases are clustered together in safe corners. For others in this series click on Collectors in the label line below this post.
Talk to anyone who has ever encountered a dolphin, be it in the water, or from a boat and they all say the same thing - that it was one of the most special moments they've experienced. Dolphins have a universal appeal and who could miss an opportunity to get up close and personal. And you can do just that with Auckland's Whale & Dolphin Safaris, which take you out into the Hauraki Gulf to swap pleasantries with these friendly marine mammals. Just another of the everyday happenings in a lucky travel guide writer's life. www.explorenz.co.nz
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Racing through narrow rocky canyons at crazy speeds may not be everyone's cup of tea but if you want to wake yourself up in a hurry, this is just the way to do it. Join the Shotover Jet team for more squeals and screams per minute than you thought yourself capable of. www.shotoverjet.com
Friday, April 24, 2009
I can't resist - I have to bring you further views of Neil Dawson's terrific suspended sculpture, 'Ferns,' that is suspended above Wellington's Civic Square. I know it's been in place for a long time.; I know it's not new; but every time I visit the capital I see it afresh.
I've spent a lot of time in the voluminous and elegant foyer of the SKYCITY Grand Hotel in the last couple of days - mostly because I was an idiot and got my appointment times mixed up and had to return twice to get it right. While waiting, I amused myself taking photographs - little glimpses of the hotel's huge and amazing contemporary New Zealand art collection through the see-through curtain thingy. Both SKYCTY Hotel and SKYCITY Grand are adorned with a wide array of artworks - from lobbies through to every single guest room. I love that about the place. www.skycitygrand.co.nz
Thursday, April 23, 2009
SkyWalker April 2009 Ajr Sky Jumper determined not to look down. April 2009 Ajr And just to prove that I DID go to the top of SKYTOWER today - despite my fear of heights - here's a couple of shotsI took of people MUCH keener than me. Keep in mind that SKY TOWER is 328 m (1,076 ft)tall and it has a glass-faced lift with a glass panel in the floor. Suffice to say I was quietly freaking out long before I ever got to the top observation deck. www.skytower.co.nz
I spent a LOT of time this afternoon photographing these hoardings at a Britomart construction site. Ernst & Young have also sponsored a hoardings art exhibition in the same area (more on that another time) and the whole place is looking colourful and interesting. I like it when construction sites ADD to a city. I might be the only person who thinks so but I do tend to think they do anyway. .... all those forms and textures and shapes and cranes.... I find it all visually stimulating. Factor in words and you've got a real winner in my eyes.
Here's another interesting offering from one of New Zealand's leading printmakers. To see others in this ongoing series click on Cleavin in the index line below this post - and don't forget to click Older Posts to see the complete set.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
If you ever want to fossick in a secondhand/antique shop, seek out this little gem in the Auckland suburb of Westmere - especially if you're into collectible china. Babushka's has an enviable gathering of just about everything. It was closed when I visited... thank goodness, for I fear I might have done something silly.
Dare I confess to the fact that the bright lights of the big city are taking it out of me?
I feel like I've flown to Jamaica and back!
That's the lot of a travel guide writer - early starts, late nights, rushing about like a headless chicken, eating too much, not sleeping enough, writing long hours and generally fighting back exhaustion. Call that glamorous do you?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I loved this little cafe - Agnes Curran - in Franklin Road, Ponsonby...a little slither of a place filled to the brim with visual stimulii - stacks of food books, collections of Crown Lynn crockery, a video projected onto the brick walls, old signs, food goodies to buy, food goodies to eat, magazines to read and a great picture window looking out onto an avenue of plane trees turning golden in the first flush of autumn. Just the spot to rest awhile from travel guide mayhem.